Building New Railways in America

I wasn’t expecting this piece to fall into the queue for today, but you all know me as a sucker for trains. So today we have this nice set of small multiples from the Guardian. It looks at…I guess we could call it train deserts. They’re like food deserts, except we’re talking about trains.

Some of the US train deserts
Some of the US train deserts

What strikes me is that in a perfect world at least three of these could be on one direct line. You can almost draw a straight line from Columbus, Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee and hit Louisville, Kentucky. Obviously things like property get in the way, but it is something to note.

Credit for the piece goes to Jan Diehm.

Septa’s Train and Trolley Service

Well, everyone, today you get two posts. The first and earlier (and planned) post is about polling in Pennsylvania. Relevant to those of you following the US election. But today’s post is about what trains are running in the city of Philadelphia.

If you haven’t heard, the city’s mass transit agency, SEPTA, and its primary union for workers within the city cannot come to an agreement on a contract. So…strike. And for those of you reading this from outside the Philly area, rest assured it’s just chaos right now. To put it into a wee bit of perspective, we have this graphic—actually an interactive map—of train routes in the city. And by train, Philadelphia has your standard suburban commuter heavy rail and subway lines and light rail lines, but we also make use of a number of trolley lines.

What's running and not
What’s running and not

What the map does not show are the city’s various bus routes, all of which that run within the city are suspended. There are bus routes and rail lines outside the city, most notably the commuter rail or the blue lines in the map, operated by a different union that is not on strike.

Credit for the piece goes to the Philly.com graphics department.

China’s Straddling Bus

Apologies for the lack of posts the last two days. I visited Wisconsin to trace some of the courthouse records of the Spellacys. And while I will try to return to them later next week, today we go to China.

During my recent holidays, the media made much ado about a new straddling bus in China. Except that it’s not that new. And now it might not be real or at least really viable. I recalled this graphic from 2012 via the Guardian and decided it would be relevant to try and explain how the bus should work.

How the straddling bus works
How the straddling bus works

Credit for the piece goes to Graphic News.

Long-distance Amtrak

Today’s post is not super complex, but we all know I am a sucker for transit. Especially Amtrak. Back home on the East Coast, it runs both quickly and reliably along the Northeast Corridor and the Keystone Corridor. But as this graphic from the Wall Street Journal shows, that does not quite hold up for the longer distance Amtrak routes. Why? Freight trains.

Long distance is always difficult
Long distance is always difficult

Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal graphics department.

Striking the Balance Between Airline Prices and Service

Yesterday I took a look at the Alaskan Airlines and Virgin America merger. Part of the disappointment on the internets centres around the service and experience delivered by Virgin. I mean who doesn’t like mood lighting, right? Well the Economist took a look at international airlines by both price and service. And if we use Virgin Atlantic as the best proxy for Virgin America, you can see why people prefer it over American carriers.

Price vs. service
Price vs. service

Credit for the piece goes to James Tozer.

Merging Alaska Airlines and Virgin America

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America made some news the past few days when they announced Alaska would purchase Virgin America for $2.6 billion. I mapped out the flight routes of the two carriers to see where they overlapped. You can see the results in my piece for the blog today below.

A brief look at the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America
A brief look at the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America

Credit for the work is mine, except the underlying map, which I sourced from Brigham Young University Geography Department.

Fighting Off My Jet Lag

As I mentioned earlier this week, I visited London for work for a week and then took some rollover holiday time to stay around London and then visit Dublin. But now I am back. And this week that has meant all the jet lag. And while everybody experiences jet lag and recovers from it differently, I wanted to take a look at my experience. The data and such is below. But the basic point, it is about four days before I return to normal.

What is missing, unfortunately, is the Chicago-to-London data. Because anecdotally, that was far, far worse than the return flight.

My sleeping periods are in purple
My sleeping periods are in purple

Credit is my own.

Uber vs. Taxi (in New York)

I just spent the weekend back in my hometown of Philadelphia and while we walked most places, there were a few Uber rides. As someone who doesn’t use the app and normally will hail a taxi when necessary, I had been looking forward to posting this piece. FiveThirtyEight looked at data for New York comparing Uber to taxis.

Share in New York
Share in New York

Credit for the piece goes to Reuben Fischer-Baum.

Night Tube

Transport for London (TfL), the organisation that runs the London Underground or Tube, has announced a nighttime service called Night Tube. It is not for the entire system, but only a few specific lines. That means that TfL needed a new map. And that means that everyone will want to create their own version of the Night Tube map. So this article at City Metric looks at just that. The TfL version is shown below.

The official TfL map
The official TfL map

Credit for the original goes to Transport for London.

The Curviest Tracks on the Northeast Corridor

If you remember a little while back, Amtrak No. 188 derailed in North Philadelphia at Frankford Junction. I covered it here and here. Well, the New York Times has analysed the Northeast Corridor to identify the curviest segments of track, excluding entrances and exits from stations. Perhaps as no surprise, Frankford Junction is right among the top segments.

Tracks north of Centre City Philadelphia
Tracks north of Centre City Philadelphia

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.